The last time the National League beat the American League in an All-Star game was on July 9, 1996: back when Independence Day was the summer movie blockbuster and six months before a young gunslinger named Brett Favre won the Super Bowl with Green Bay.
The game was played at the Philadelphia Phillies’ Veterans Stadium, a ballpark that was leveled by dynamite six-and-a-half years ago. That night, the Philadelphia-suburb native Mike Piazza hit a home run and was the game’s MVP as the NL rolled to a 6-0 victory.
Tuesday in Anaheim, the NL will try again for it’s first victory over the AL since that time…it’s been a while. The AL has dominated since. Let’s take a look…
All the runs were scored on home runs. Tied 1-1 in the last of the seventh inning, Sandy Alomar Jr. connected on a two-run blast to give the AL an eventual 3-1 win. Alomar, in front of his home crowd, was named MVP.
Larry Doby threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Back in 1947, Doby became the first African American to MLB for an American League team. His debut for the Indians came just 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson first played for the Dodgers.
The highest-scoring All-Star game in history took place at the humidor-less Coors Field. Barry Bonds hit a three-run homer in the fifth to give the NL a 6-5 lead, before the AL stormed back with eight of the game’s final ten runs for a 13-8 victory.
NL pitchers combined to throw 215 pitches. Roberto Alomar collected three of the contest’s 31 hits to win the game MVP.
All-Star Game No. 70. Red Sox past and present took center stage at Fenway as the AL won again, 4-1. Several former players were honored prior to the game, including ailing 80-year-old Ted Williams, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Then it was Pedro’s show. The AL starter Martinez struck out five of the six hitters he faced (Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Jeff Bagwell) including the first four.
Pedro was the game’s MVP. He went on to complete perhaps the greatest season of any pitcher in history, going 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts (at the height of the Steroid Era, too) in route to the Cy Young award.
Game MVP Derek Jeter collected three hits in leading the AL to a 6-3 win in Atlanta. Nothing really of note here, except that Chipper Jones hit a home run in his home park.
Cal Ripken Jr. stole the show in his 19th and final All-Star game. The lifetime Oriole broke a scoreless tie in the third inning by homering on Chan Ho Park’s first pitch (some later accused Park of making the Hallmark moment possible by intentionally grooving the pitch).
Back in the first inning, then-shortstop Alex Rodriguez played at third base so Ripken could play shortstop, as he had for most of his career.
That could have been considered the first nice gesture of Rodriguez’s career, but it probably wasn’t even his idea in the first place. The AL eventually won, 4-1, and Cal was named MVP.
IN OTHER NEWS: NL third base coach Tommy Lasorda narrowly escaped disaster in the sixth inning when he artfully dodged fragments of a splintered bat heading his way…
The ultimate embarrassment of Bud Selig’s tenure as Commissioner fittingly took place in his home town of Milwaukee, Wisc.
With both teams’ bullpens empty after 11 innings, Selig chose to end the game in a 7-7 tie. No fans were very happy about that.
Thanks to the All-Star Tie, we now have the All-Star Game determining which league has home field advantage in the World Series. Brilliance, well, not really.
IN OTHER NEWS: Torii Hunter robbed Barry Bonds of a home run with a miraculous catch over the centerfield wall in the first inning. Bonds crushed a ball off Roy Halladay in his next at-bat, which not even Hunter could catch up to.
The NL led 5-1 in the bottom of the sixth. They led 6-4 in the bottom of the eighth with Eric Gagne (at the time the game’s best closer) on the mound. But Hank Blalock’s two-run shot off Gagne highlighted a three-run eighth to give the AL an eventual 7-6 win.
The AL victory gave the Yankees home field advantage in the World Series. The Yankees used that edge to watch heavy-underdog Florida celebrate the world championship after Game 6…in Yankee Stadium.
All-Star Game No. 75. First-year Astro Roger Clemens got to start the All-Star Game in his home park. He gave up six runs (three earned), five hits, two home runs, and threw 35 pitches in the first inning in an eventual 9-4 AL win.
Muhammad Ali threw out the first pitch.
The AL busted out to a 7-0 lead after six innings. The NL saved a little dignity by rallying late to make it 7-5. Miguel Tejada was MVP.
By now, people were starting to talk: the AL hadn’t lost in nine years.
The NL had the AL right where they wanted. The NL led, 2-1, and had held the AL to just four hits.
NL closer Trevor Hoffman retired the first two batters in the ninth but then gave up three straight hits, including a two-run triple to Michael Young on an 0-2 pitch that gave the AL a 3-2 lead and the eventual win.
No surprise, Young was named MVP.
AL leadoff hitter Ichiro was the MVP, collecting three hits and two RBI as the AL won again, 5-4.
Trailing by one with the based loaded and two outs in the ninth, NL manager Tony LaRussa opted to use Aaron Rowand as a pinch-hitter instead of his very own superstar, Albert Pujols. Roward eventually flew out to right field to secure the AL win, while Pujols was the only NL player not to appear in the game.
Prior to one of the greatest All-Star Games ever. The NL led 2-0 in the seventh until J.D. Drew tied it with a two-run shot. Drew was eventually named MVP.
The NL regained the lead in the eighth before the AL tied it again in the bottom of the inning off Billy Wagner.
The game was scoreless for the next six innings before Michael Young picked up his second game-winning All-Star RBI in three years with a sacrifice fly that scored Justin Morneau from third for the 4-3 win in 15 innings.
Brad Lidge, who didn’t blow a save all year for the eventual world champion Phillies, took the loss for the NL. Lidge’s All-Star Game loss gave Tampa Bay home field advantage in the World Series, and allowed the Phillies to clinch the series at home in five games.
All-Star Game No. 80. At the new Busch Stadium, five of the game’s seven runs were scored in the first two innings. The NL scored all three of their runs off AL starter Roy Halladay.
An eighth-inning sacrifice fly by Adam Jones broke the tie and proved to be the difference as the AL won a close game once again, 4-3.